“Help!” Continues . . . So you’ve had ACL Reconstruction, Now What??

Hi! We are continuing our discussion on ACL tears and last post we talked about what to do if you think you have torn your ACL. Today we will discuss Rehabilitation and all the questions you should ask your Physical Therapist and Orthopaedic Surgeon and the answers they may give you . . .

If you missed the first part you can read it here Help! My daughter tore her ACL . . . We think??

So you’ve had surgery . . . 20150625__701135-s500-phHopefully you are feeling like you made a great choice ~ I don’t suspect you are necessarily happy with needing surgery and the coming rehabilitation but now that your joint is stable again proper healing can begin ~ its uphill from here baby!

I suspect you have the lots of questions tho . . .

  • How long do I have toimages-8
    • take meds
    • use the crutches
    • wear a brace
    • keep icing
  • When will it stop
    • hurting
    • being so swollen 
  • When can I get back to
    • sports
    • school/work
    • walking normally
  • Is this normal???

First lets talk about some common things you may be surprised by or concerned about that your  surgeon may not have mentioned . . .

  1. You may have a LOT of pain and swellingtherapeutic-drugs-monitoring-19-638
    1. STAY ON YOUR MEDS AS LONG AS YOU NEED TO!
      The pain and anti-inflammatory medication is needed to manage the pain and swelling along with frequent icing for the first days after surgery. If you do not take your medications regularly they will not build up in your system enough to control the pain and swelling.
    2. It is okay to use the ice machine that was sent home with you as much as you need. It doesn’t really freeze your knee just keeps it cool and comfortable.
    3. elevate your leg as much as you can during the day.
  2. You may bruise ~ tearing your ACL and Surgery are both internal injuries that can cause bruising.
  3. You may have trouble sleeping ~ Because of the pain and swelling, you may not be able to find a comfortable position.
  4. You may feel nauseous
    1. This should only last a day or two 
    2. if it lasts longer the pain medication may not be sitting well in your stomach. Speak to your physician about a different medication.
  5. You may feel more tired ~ everything you do may require more effort.
    1. Getting in/out of the car
    2. Walking with brace and crutches
    3. You may have trouble lifting your leg
      1. It will be heavy and your muscles may not be working well.

Lastly, you will (sometime in the rehabilitation process)images-6

be frustrated at the speed of recovery,

be concerned about your progress,

be anxious to get back playing your sport,

be sad that this is taking sooooo long,

be angry that this happened!

Allow yourself to have these feelings, sit with them, embrace them, accept them and move through them ~ it’s a part of the healing process.

A typical rehabilitation protocol looks like this:

Phase 1

  • Control pain and swelling with ice, medications and exercise to create optimal healing conditions.
  • Keep muscles working with exercise to avoid atrophy.
  • Introduce joint range of motion with exercise to prevent stiffening of tissues.
  • Continue wearing brace until you have adequate quad muscle control to protect ACL ~ usually 2-6 weeks depending on surgeon.
  • Use of crutches as needed when walking ~ usually only 1-2 weeks.

Phase 2 ~ continue with above and . . .

  • Introduce coordination exercises if haven’t already.
  • 6 weeks is a key healing time requiring protection of graft ~ at this point many people are feeling better and assume they can doing things that could put the graft at risk for tearing.
  • Toward the middle and end of this phase introduce balance, agility and coordination.

Phase 3 ~ continue with the above and . . .

  • Increasing speed with balance, agility and coordination
  • Remediate movement pattern dysfunction to prevent future injury.

Phase 4 ~ Return to Sport

  • Typically return to practice with a specialized knee brace at 8-9 months and playing in games at 9-12 months.
  • All making sure that you are using normal movement patterns and are cross training the opposite movements as well to reduce your risk of future injury

So there you have it  . . . The Nutshell Version of ALC rehabilitation!

Have I answered your questions? Created more? Post below and let me know . . .

Speak with you soon! Roxi

Help! My daughter tore her ACL . . . We think??

So I get a text from a friend of mine . . . and my heart sinks . . . she tells me her daughter may have torn her ACL during a soccer game his weekend! She writes “If you have time can you call me about Marie’s ACL and what questions we should ask the surgeon?”

Being a Physical Therapist, I get phone calls, texts and emails like this frequently. I also have personal experience with kids sports injuries. You see the moment they go down and pray its nothing serious, you cringe or gasp, your heart pounds as you calmly reassure yourself that everything is going to be fine. Most of the time they get up and keep playing, other times they walk off and rest, but the worst is when they are carried off or god forbid an ambulance is called!

Deep breath . . .     imgres-2

Once the adrenalin rush has subsided, your child is comfortable, and you’ve had a chance to process the injury then you reach out to people you know, who have experience, for advice . . . What’s next?

So after sympathizing greatly with her, I asked my friend:

  1. What happened? Was it a contact or non contact injury?
  2. Did Marie hear or feel a pop? Is her knee swollen? Can she put weight on it? Does she have full range of motion? How much does it hurt? Does it buckle?
  3. Has she had any imaging ~ X-ray, MRI?
  4. How is she feeling emotionally? How are mom and dad doing?
  5. How can I help? What do you need or want from me?

And I listen . . . Any healthcare provider you choose should ask similar questions and then listen.

Then she asked me:

  1. What could be wrong in the knee? Is it the ACL?
  2. Does she need surgery? Could she get away without it?
  3. What should I ask the orthopedic surgeon?
  4. How soon could she play? Is this going to affect her permanently/forever? Will it limit her ability to play soccer going forward? And as an adult?

As you can imagine this conversation is a little different for everyone . . .

The Nutshell Version: What You Need to Know About ACL Injury.

The Mechanism by which an ACL tearhqdefault

  1. Cutting and planting moves (with rotation) or quick change in direction ~ non contact injury.
  2. Getting hit in a manner that pushes your femur backward or your tibia forward past the point at which the ligament can hold ~ contact injury.

You may hear or feel a pop, and the knee joint will probably swell up, it may or may not hurt much past the initial injury.  In order to confirm it is actually a tear in your ACL and not injury to muscle, knee cap or meniscus instead, you need a clinical evaluation by a Physical Therapist or an Orthopaedic Surgeon and an MRI.

The ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament is a ligament which connect the femur to the tibia. If it tears completely it makes the knee joint unstable to correct this there are two options:

  1. Surgery to reconstruct the ligament and restore joint stability.
  2. Physical Therapy to train the muscles to maintain joint stability in any and all activities in which a person wants to engage ~ from standing and walking to sports performance.

The general recommendation is surgery IF . . .

  1. You have a complete tear and it impacts other structures like other ligaments or the meniscus.
  2. You want to return to a high level of athletic play.

Surgical options include:

  1. Allograft ~ a cadaver tendon is used to reconstruct the ACL
    • PROS:  Only one location in the knee to heal, better motion, less time in operating room
    • CONS: chance of rejection of graft since it is not your own tissue. Higher failure rates, slower to adapt to person body.
    • Recommended for: older patients
  2. Autograft ~ your own patellar or hamstring tendon is used to reconstruct the ACL
    • PROS: no chance of issue rejection, its your own tissue so it doesn’t have to adapt, its stronger and lower failure rates
    • CONS: have two sites to heal the ACL and patellar or hamstring tendon. This may slow the recovery time as it can create tissue irritation at the graft harvest tendon location.
    • Recommended for: younger patients, athletes

When you see the Orthopedic Surgeon you should ask the same questions my friend asked me . . . once you know the diagnosis ask these questions:

  1. Is surgery needed? What are the options?20150625__701135-s500-ph
  2. What kind of surgery do you recommend or what kind of graft will you use?
  3. Can I have Physical Therapy before surgery?
  4. What happens after surgery? How long do I have to wear the brace? Use crutches? When can I start physical therapy? Sleep or walk without the brace? Return to sports?

For answer to those last questions see my next post coming this weekend . . .

. . . The Nutshell Version: What You Need to Know About ACL Rehabilitation!

Until next time . . . CiA13cRXEAQaiLr

Roxi

Olympics 2016 ~ #TeamUSA!

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Have you been watching the Olympics this year? 

We are college touring (my son is a senior) and vacationing for the entire two weeks so I have only been catching the sports I love at the end of the day or via Sirius XM!

What are your favorite events?

Mine are gymnastics, beach volleyball and soccer. This year I did get into the swimming a bit too! Wow, we have some phenomenal athletes! #TeamUSA.

Another sport I have been following is mixed doubles Badminton!?! I know kinda random but . . . a former PT Aide that I worked with is an Olympian in this sport! I am so proud of her just being an Olympian and Athlete. She posted a picture of herself on Instagram using gradient compression pumps on her legs for recovery 🙂

In addition, Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are sporting their kinesiotape and Michael Phelps has had cupping. What’s that you ask?? Stay tuned below for a link to my colleague’s blog post!

All of this had me thinking . . . I kinesiotape a few of my athletes for competition and many people come to ask me on the sideline “Does that stuff really work? What does it do??”

So here’s the scoop . . .

What is kinesiotaping?

Kinesiotaping is a technique used by Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainers, and Athletes to improve muscle performance or decrease pain during sport. It can also be used to decrease swelling in certain circumstances. It is a light elastic tape that is applied to the body to facilitate or inhibit muscles or move swelling. It is not rigid and therefore allows the body to move through its full range of motion during sport.

Does it really work?

Most medical research says there is no significant difference between use of tape and other treatments BUT . . . Athletes say YES it totally works!  Ultimately, you need to decide for yourself. Ask your Physical Therapist if kinesiotaping is appropriate for your problem and if so have him/her tape that area to see if it helps ~ reduce pain, swelling, make moving easier.

What does kinesiotaping do?

  • For use on muscles, the tape gives your body signals to either use a muscle more or less.
  • For reduction of swelling the tape lifts the skin and fascia to create movement of the fluid so it drains away from the swollen area.
  • For pain it lifts the skin and fascia to decrease the pressure on a muscle that is in spasm.

How do I know what kind of tape to buy?

Your Physical Therapist may be able to recommend the tape that is best for you. The major differences between the brands are patterns of wave forms, color options, and adhesive none of which affects the function of the tape but each person will have different preferences in brand of tape so use which every you like best!

Are they side effects?

  • You can have skin sensitivity reactions such as itching, redness, and the like.
  • If worn for many hours after sweating it can cause a rash from trapped sweat under the tape.
  • If you have latex allergies the tape may irritate your skin.
  • If the tape is close to the neck, head, armpit or back of the knee you can have dizziness, nausea and a general feeling of not being right ~ if this happens it will happen within 5 minutes of applying the tape, REMOVE THE TAPE IMMEDIATELY and the symptoms should be reduced greatly if not gone within 5 minutes. Kinesiotape should never be applied in the armpit or back of the knee.

Can I tape myself?

Yes . . . But, you will want to know what to tape and how to tape it. Speak to your Physical Therapist about your specific issue.  There are lots of YouTube videos available to teach you how to tape yourself but to avoid injury, and understand the purpose of taping, make sure they are done by reliable sources. Better yet check with your PT.

Do you have any Kinesiotaping stories to share? Comment below!

Did I answer all your questions? If not comment below or email me . . . drroxi@zptforinjury.com

Look forward to hearing from you! Be well, Roxi

P.S. here’s the cupping blog my colleague wrote!

Concussion Discussion


My kids are kind of accident prone. Maybe no more than the average kid these days but much more than I was as a kid! They have had multiple casts on multiple body parts among other injuries. The most frightening thing we have faced however is concussions – my son has had two in three years.

Luckily, I spent the first ten years of my career working with brain injury so I am familiar with these types of clinical presentations lending a degree of comfort to dealing with a concussed kid. Unfortunately, I spent the first ten years of my career working with brain injury so I am familiar with these types of clinical presentations causing me to become extremely neurotic when dealing with a concussed kid!

In 2013 I began learning a little more about the role that physical therapists can play in concussion diagnosis and treatment. With the fall sports season starting, it behooves me to share some of this information with you.

What is a concussion?

An injury to the brain that disrupts how it normally works, caused by a hit or jolt to the head that causes the brain to move around inside the skull.

How do you get one?

The most common mechanism of injury is colliding with another player or the head hitting the ground no matter what sport or activity in which the child is involved.

In football there is additional risk due to head to head contact when tackling.

What are the signs/symptoms of a concussion?

  • Physical = nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision.

  • Cognitive = memory, concentration issues

  • Emotional = irritability, excessive crying or laughing, mood swings

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Essentially your chid just seems a little off.

Who is most at risk?

  • Kids are more at risk than adults  – their brains and bodies are still developing and therefore are more sensitive to the neurochemical changes that occur during a concussion

  • Girls are more susceptible than boys – they make less testosterone and therefore the  size and power of their neck muscles will be less than boys.

How can a concussion be prevented?

  • Safe play – sportsmanship and proper technique.

  • Proper conditioning and training – in the off season and participation in more than one sport to develop multiple skill sets.

  • Use the proper protective equipment.

The bigger issue is the risk of Second Impact Syndrome  

This occurs when a concussed athlete returns to play before he or she is completely recovered. Astonishingly, 50% of concussions go unreported because either the incident is not recognized as a concussion or the athlete doesn’t report symptoms because they want to stay in the game.

 What to do if you suspect a concussion?

  • NO MORE PLAY

  • Head to the ER or MD – no imaging can ID a concussion but it can rule out other things

  • Have a plan for symptoms management and monitored return to regular activity – school and sport

  • Follow the 4 Step Return to Academics then the 5 Step Return to Sports Protocols under the supervision of a professional familiar with concussions = MD, PT, ATC

For answers to your specific questions please email me at drroxi@zptforinjury.com

Be Well!  Roxi